Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has commended the groundbreaking progress achieved so far in the construction of Lake Gwayi Shangani in Matabeleland North province as one of the milestones by his Government last year.
The massive project is among the flagship infrastructure projects being undertaken by the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa in its drive to foster inclusive economic transformation. It is the third largest inland dam after Tugwi Mukosi and Lake Mutirikwi with a gross carrying capacity of 650 million cubic meters. Being constructed by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) through a Chinese contractor, the dam project is part of a century-old National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP), which successive administrations failed to kickstart.
However, when President Mnangagwa came to power in 2017, he pledged to complete it within a short period and true to his word, the project is now 73 percent complete. While Zinwa is the project manager, China Water and Electric Corporation, is responsible for construction works.
A mid-2023 deadline has been set for the completion of the dam, which is expected to impact positively on several economic aspects.
In a statement on Twitter yesterday, President Mnangagwa named Lake Gwayi Shangani as one of the top successes for 2022 saying in the course of this week he will be highlighting some of the successes that the Second Republic achieved last year.
“I want to recognise the successes of the last year, beginning with the groundbreaking progress we have made at the Gwayi-Shangani Dam,” he posted.
“We are making the lives of Zimbabweans better each and every day. I will be taking a look back at the successes of 2022 this week in order to celebrate how far Zimbabwe has come and learn from our great journey.”
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka, who was in Bulawayo last Friday said the massive dam wall was now 73 percent complete.
He said the construction of dams fulfills the Government’s policy of inclusive development where no one and no place is left behind. The project is more significant for the Matabeleland region, which had long been regarded as marginalised in terms of development.
“The President has said no one and no place must be left behind and we have major dam development projects taking place across the country,” said Dr Masuka.
“Twelve of them are happening and closer to here we have the Lake Gwayi Shangani, which is at 73 percent complete. We are also building the canal that is also going to transmit water to Bulawayo.”
The Government has contracted 11 contractors to build a 245KM Gwayi-Shangani-Bulawayo pipeline and Dr Masuka said so far 139km has been cleared.
“We have now cleared that conveyance and we are putting in a piping system that will enable Bulawayo to receive 220megalitres a day against its requirement of 165ml/day,” he said.
“This is enough to supply Bulawayo for the next eight years. This project was mooted in 1912 but only implemented under the Second Republic.”
Already the Government is in the process of allocating tenders to construct a new water treatment plant in Bulawayo’s Cowdray Park suburb as part of NMZWP.
Once completed Bulawayo’s supply dams situated with Matabeleland South will be weaned off from the city.
It is expected that the supply dams will be released to support irrigation agricultural programmes in Matabeleland South and boost food security.
The construction project is already having positive impact to hundreds of locals who are employed at the dam site including the benefit of knowledge transfer.
A steel fabrication factory and quarry stone manufacturing plant have been established at the dam site as part of the innovative ways to reduce cost related to the dam’s construction.
While US$8 million is required per month to construct the dam wall, Zinwa has adopted cost-cutting measures, which include the roller-compacted concrete gravity dam, implying that it depends on its weight for stability.
Zinwa is also using fly ash (waste that comes from coal) as a substitute for cement in the construction of the dam. It will have an ogee-shaped overflow, with a 200-metre-long spillway while the maximum depth of water will be 59 metres.
The Government has identified 10 000 hectares of land that will be irrigated in various districts in Matabeleland North to enhance food security as communities along the pipeline are expected to benefit from the water passing through their villages.
A 10MW hydroelectric power station will be established on site, which will boost electricity generation.
Lake Gwayi Shangani is expected to boost the tourism sector while economic activities directly linked to the dam will be rolled out downstream.
Article Source: The Chronicle